July 18, 2024

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Switzerland’s Banque Pictet admits hiding billions from US tax authorities

2 min read

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Swiss private bank Banque Pictet has admitted to helping U.S. taxpayers hide more than $5.6 billion from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, federal prosecutors said on Monday.

According to prosecutors, U.S. taxpayers with Pictet accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere evaded about $50.6 million in taxes between 2008 and 2014. As part of the agreement, Banque Pictet agreed to pay $122.9 million to the U.S. Treasury.

“This case should provide a clear message to others who try to hide their assets and income offshore,” Jim Lee, the chief of the IRS’ criminal investigation division, said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, Pictet will implement remedial measures and cooperate with the authorities’ investigation. If it complies for three years, U.S. prosecutors will move to dismiss charges of conspiring to defraud the IRS.

“Pictet is pleased to have resolved this matter and will continue to take steps to ensure its clients meet their tax obligations,” the bank said in a statement.

U.S. authorities have long accused Swiss banks of helping wealthy Americans evade taxes.

Credit Suisse in 2014 agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine for helping Americans evade taxes in a conspiracy that spanned decades. The bank has since been taken over by former rival UBS.

In 2016, two former Julius Baer bankers pleaded guilty to helping American clients dodge taxes, and the bank agreed to pay $547 million to resolve the criminal case.

Prosecutors said that while Pictet adopted some measures to ensure U.S. clients complied with the law, it helped some customers hide funds from the IRS in offshore accounts.

The bank’s disgorgement of funds includes $52 million in fees that Pictet earned from the undeclared accounts, $32 million in unpaid taxes, and a $39 million penalty, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Noele Illien in Zurich; Editing by…

2023-12-04 12:17:01

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